Category Archives: Features

31 Daleham Gardens: A new lease of life

In September 2020, Camden’s Cabinet approved a regeneration strategy for property in Daleham Gardens, identifying the preferred option as being redevelopment through disposal to a local Community Land Trust (CLT). The approved strategy recognised that a locally-based, community-led developer, such as a CLT, with a strong local knowledge and community roots, non-profit status and focus on high quality affordable homes could be well-placed to deliver affordable housing on this site.

Following an Expression of Interest Process in early 2021, which sought submissions from community groups interested in the site, NW3 CLT were identified as Camden’s preferred submission, and Camden have now begun negotiations with NW3 CLT for the sale and regeneration of the site.

Sanya Polescuk, a director of NW3 CLT and a BelSoc Committee members writes: 

CLTs are community-led local organisations set up and run by ordinary people to develop and manage homes as well as other assets important to that community, such as community enterprises, food growing areas, or workspaces.

NW3 CLT is the first registered Community Land Trust in North London and was set up in April 2016. It is a not-for-profit, Registered Community Benefit Society with its base in Belsize Park, membership of close to 150 and a Board of five Directors. We work together to leverage our skills as a community and as individuals from diverse backgrounds, be they key workers and civil servants or building and finance professionals. 

As members of the National CLT Network (NCLT Network), we at NW3 CLT seek to influence developments in national housing policies. We work with local organisations such as Voluntary Action Camden and  Hampstead Neighbourhood Forum, helped by local media and social media. We are supported both financially and through mentorship by the NCLT Network and by the GLA’s Community-led Housing Hub. 

Over the last five years we have worked to raise awareness about the erosion of affordable housing stock in our area and the growing need to provide such housing in order to sustain an integrated yet diverse community – something NW3 has historically had but which is now endangered.

We campaigned for affordable and key worker housing in NW3 and adjoining postcodes. Our work included identifying and appraising unused and underused properties in NW3 with the aim of developing them in a way that maximises the provision of affordable housing. Architecturally, our approach has been to either retain, repurpose or reuse as much of a specific building and its materials as possible. Wells Court in Oriel Place, Old Hampstead Police Station on Haverstock Hill and Branch Hill Care Home are some of the properties where we have sought to secure the provision of affordable housing.

As a CLT that is focused on housing, our main task is to make sure that homes we develop are genuinely affordable, based on what people actually earn in our area, not just for now but for all future occupiers. We hope to use our upcoming project to showcase how this vision can become a reality. 

A detailed business plan illustrates our first affordable housing development in NW3 which aims to provide over a dozen homes for people who work or live locally.

The project will be funded through a combination of private and public investment and grants and developed in partnership with developers and registered housing providers. We are currently working on our financing matrix which will include a Community Share Offering. Our CLT members will be closely involved in both the development of the project and the management of the properties.

For further information about NW3 CLT, visit nw3clt.org.uk. 

Mary Shenai’s Belsize Walks

As we celebrate 50 years since the first few residents came together to form an association for people living and working in Belsize Park, we look back on community walks by and for our residents.

In September 1998, BRA luminary Mary Shenai led a walk in Belsize Lane with the theme of “Standing in History”.  At that time, there had been changes in the Village.  Mary’s view was that those changes should make residents realise that they were part of a continuing process, standing in history, and that it was appropriate to look back during the walk at how Belsize had become what it is today.  All future walks looked both at the past and at the present – reflecting Belsize as a place that has evolved and not atrophied. 

In October 1999, Mary led a walk about the Eton Estate with notes written by Robin Woolven and in 2000 her walk focused on the architecture of Eton Avenue.  She described Eton Avenue as a “street of startling variety” when compared with the uniform stucco classical houses of Belsize built before the 1880s.  Eton Avenue is recorded as completely built up and numbered by 1903.  Mary observed that its houses were not designed by leading architects.  They are houses built in the prevailing style of their age by a far-sighted and imaginative developer, William Willett, using his own architects, Harry Measures and Amos Faulkner.  

In October 2001, Mary’s walk centred on Lyndhurst Road.  She said: “We need to get our imaginations to sweep away everything you see here today…none of these houses, no roads, no Fitzjohns Avenue, no Akenside Road, no Lyndhurst Road, only fields and one large house in its grounds”.  This was Rosslyn House (previously known as Shelford Lodge and before that as Grove House).  The most famous resident of Rosslyn House was Alexander Wedderburn, 1st Earl of Rosslyn (1733 – 1805).  He became Lord Loughborough in 1780 and Lord High Chancellor in later years.  Members will know Wedderburn Road.  Other roads in NW3 named after Lord Chancellors are Eldon Road and Thurlow Road – as well as Lyndhurst Road itself which is named after John Copley, 1st Baron Lyndhurst, who is buried in Highgate Cemetery.  

In September 2002, Mary’s walk was “Hayfields to Horizontal Windows: A Walk through England’s Lane”.  The name England’s Lane derives from an eighteenth century tenant farmer James England but Mary was keen to point out more modern buildings, such as Stanbury Court at the end of the Lane with its “horizontal paned windows wider than they are long, smooth white surfaces, rounded corners and flat roofs” making a “handsome building in a style uniquely of the twentieth century”.

The walk in 2003 concentrated on the left side of Belsize Lane going west towards Fitzjohns Avenue, and Daleham Gardens.  In 2004, the walk took in Belsize Park Gardens, Glenilla Road, Belsize Avenue and Belsize Square, ending with tea in St Peter’s Church.  The Church’s vicarage in the middle of the Square was sold to the New Liberal Jewish Community in 1947 who renovated it and commissioned a new synagogue by the Bauhaus trained architect H.W. Reisenberg.  A new hall was added in 1973.  Mary noted that the synagogue’s “symbolic gates proudly reveal its identity”.

In Autumn 2005, Mary led the walk with Gordon Maclean, talking about “Eton Avenue, Ancient and Modern”.  They noted the new Hampstead Theatre – opened two years previously and replacing an older prefabricated building near the Basil Spence library.   The theatre building was “one of the best new theatre buildings in England” with a glass and timber louvred skin surrounding a free-form 250 seat theatre.

Mary’s final walk took place in 2006, with “Belsize and Eton” as its subject.  She conducted the walk with Aileen Hammond who had an abundance of knowledge about Haverstock Hill.  Aileen spoke with affection about how “Haverstock Hill itself retains a slightly scruffier image – or at least we like to think so!  But Karl Marx who, we learn from Streets of Belsize, actually lived just round the corner in Maitland Park Road from 1864-75, always gave his address as Haverstock Hill.  When writing to his friend Engels he justified his rather lavish lifestyle by saying it would improve his daughters’ prospects in life.  Be that as it may, rumours are afoot that even ‘The Etons’ [Eton Road, Eton Villas, Provost Road and Eton College Road] have lost their most raffish residents – the cockroaches that gave such a warm, scurrying welcome to 1960s residents when they came home after dark and put on the lights.” How times have changed – and all the more reason to recall Mary’s words that we are standing in history. 

More recent historical walls were led by Averil Nottage and Aileen Hammond.  BelSoc plans to revive the annual walk – subject to any ongoing concerns about Covid. 

Tribute to Aileen Hammond

It was with sadness that BelSoc learned of Aileen Hammond’s death on 19 February.  A much-respected councillor for Belsize, a much-loved member of BRA and BelSoc, and a generous and selfless person, she will be very greatly missed. 

Judith Gubbay pays her tribute: 

My friend Aileen was clever, and witty, and kind, and energetic. Described by one friend as a Continue reading

Highgate Newtown Community Centre Wellness Cafe

has started a new Telephone Befriending Service to help people who are shielding or isolating and unable to meet friends and family members. If you’re feeling anxious or scared or are worried about your health and wellbeing, and would like to chat, then you could do so regularly with someone from this service. Its aim is to support residents in Camden, who are aged over 55 and are feeling lonely, to stay connected with a friendly listening ear at the other end of a phone.
All volunteers have had a DBS check, receive training and support and you will be matched with one who can call you on a regular basis. Referrals are accepted from Adult Social Care, GPs, Family Members, Friends, Carers, Hospitals or you can refer yourself. For more information, please contact revah.larraine@outlook.com or phone 07483 145587.

Belsize Village Streatery 2020

In 2017, Belsize Village was described as being “besieged by burglars” in the Evening Standard. In January, Robert Stephenson-Padron reflected at a Camden Council Meeting on what the Belsize Village Business Association has been able to do to revitalise the Belsize Village area.

The Association was started just over two years ago, a period when Bob had observed numerous businesses closing and footfalls dwindle. Despite the cloud of the Coronavirus pandemic, the past summer was one seeing economic vibrancy return to our Village. He’s particularly pleased that the employment created – estimated at 50+ jobs saved or created – were in part associated with commitments to pay the London Living Wage.

At the council meeting, Bob outlined some of the key steps in the changes seen. The first was raising the profile of the Village through social media. Looking at the Instagram, Twitter, WhatApp, Facebook pages of the Association, there is a lot of activity often centring on photos taken in Belsize Village. We all know the spot is picturesque, the central feature of recent TV ads (remember 2018 Visa advert) but the Association could really highlight the Village’s biggest strength: that all the hospitality, leisure and retail businesses in Belsize Village are independents, benefitting “from the love and passion of the families that run our unique local businesses.”

A second stage of the revitalisation has focused on beautifying Belsize Village so the outdoor spaces could be used. Historically, Belsize Village suffered from litter and fly-tipping. Residents in 2015 took Camden officials on a walk to highlight the state of the village area, and working with Camden Council and with volunteers, this has been improved. Perhaps most recently were the efforts in September as part of the Nationwide Great British September Clean.

That then brings us to the Streatery. With beautiful gardening planters installed, the scene was set for an innovative, new phase for the Village on July 4, 2020, which transformed Belsize Village square into a vibrant hub and led to the economic boom the Association is most proud of. They also see this success as transferable to other communities especially tackling what they view as a largely unrecognised “litter crisis”, which blights our communities but could reset such spaces to become more economically vibrant.

Village Business Association recommendations

At the meeting at Camden Council, Belsize Village Business Association pointed at where the Council might help:

1) Tackle the litter crisis. Use the council’s marketing and enforcement power to make littering and fly-tipping anathema.

2) Have a drive to rid the Borough of graffiti-based vandalism and step up enforcement against other Anti-Social Behaviour.

3) Continue to support the innovative use of public spaces such as pro-actively supporting the Belsize Village Streatery.

4) Designate Belsize Village as a Historic Action Zone to help, for instance, install visually attractive Belsize Village signs. 

5) Provide economic incentives to businesses and/or landlords to upgrade the frontages of their buildings because these upgrades benefit an entire community.

6) Pro-actively work on improving community infrastructure, perhaps extending Belsize Village square down Belsize Terrace.

FInd out more at: https://belsizevillage.org.uk/ or social media handle @belsizevillage 

The Last Belsize Festival 1989

The sketch for the cover of the 1989 programme showed a Belsize village filled with festival-goers.

The Village has formed a focus of local activity of many kinds over the years.  Developed in the nineteenth century by William Willett, he gave up land in order to open up a triangular village green See “Streets of Belsize”, Camden History Society.  

Did you know that for many years Belsize Village hosted the Belsize Festival?  Organised by local people, and supported by the Belsize Residents Association, the Festival was held for the first time in September 1974 with Belsize Lane closed to traffic.    

The picture of the Village which you see on this page was drawn by Matthew Bell and was part of the cover of the 1989 Belsize Festival programme.  The Festival ran from 10-17 September.   The theme of the Festival was “Greening the Village”, reflecting the interest of Belsize residents in the environment which continues to this day.  The main day of the festival was Saturday 16 September.  George Melly opened the day and Belsize resident Ken Ellis was the MC.  Musical events took place in (among other places) the Village and St Peter’s Church.  There was a grand fancy dress parade, a toy and book market, and roundabout and inflatable castle.   

The programme – which is now part of the BelSoc archive – says that Mr Newman “will be there as usual with his donkeys.”  The Festival raised money for St Joseph’s Hospice in Hackney, the Simon Community and the London Wildlife Trust.   The BRA itself contributed £39.11 to these charities from cake sales – showing that the tradition of Belsize cakes is a long one.  The BRA organised a ceremony to hand over cheques to the charities.        

This was the Festival’s final year.  In 1987, the Festival was rounded off by Lord Eric Sugmugu and his Band in the rain.  After rain affected the 1988 and 1989 festivals, enthusiasm waned and the BRA Committee decided not to initiate it again.  

We are 50 years old

It is 50 years since Belsize residents came together to preserve the amenity of Belsize Park.

  • FIFTY YEARS AGO:  A group of local residents ran a campaign against a proposal for a ring road around London that would have destroyed Victorian houses and cut Belsize Park in two.  This turned into the BRA in 1976.
  • FORTY YEARS AGO: The BRA Constitution was adopted in 1982 and a campaign against estate agent boards was started.
  • THIRTY YEARS AGO: In February 1991, Harold Marks was Chairman. The BRA was contributing to the Camden Borough Plan.
  • TWENTY YEARS AGO: In February 2001, Gordon Maclean was Chairman.  The BRA was campaigning about the Swiss Cottage redevelopment; opposing a major redevelopment of the Load of Hay pub in Haverstock Hill; and welcoming the green recycling boxes (members supported the boxes but did not like the loose lids!).
  • TEN YEARS AGO: In February 2011, Averil Nottage was Chairwoman.  The BRA was gearing up for the formal consultation on HS2; taking action about budget cuts to libraries; and investigating the impact of basement developments.
  • NOW: The BelSoc Committee continues to meet by Zoom and is arranging the first (and hopefully last) Zoom AGM.  Our work on planning applications continues and new ideas for digital content are in train in order to keep up community spirit in a pandemic.

Commemorative tree for Consuelo Phelan at St Peter’s Church

Anne Stevens, Committee member, updates us:

Rowan from Belsize Park

Very many members of Belsoc will recall Consuelo Phelan’s love of trees, and the care she took to ensure that applications to fell or prune them were rigorously monitored and trees preserved and protected whenever possible. Her family in Melbourne were keen that a tree should be her memorial and kindly passed funds from her friends and themselves to BelSoc so that we could arrange this in the neighbourhood she loved so much.

A Mountain Ash (Rowan) tree has been planted where many of us frequently walk by. Do look out for it in the north east corner of St Peter’s church garden, close to the corner of Belsize Park and the east side of Belsize Square: it’s sparse and bare now, but will have delicate leaves, white blossom in spring and red berries in autumn. We are very grateful to Kenneth Robbie, the churchwarden, and to Paul Nicholson, the vicar, for arranging this.  In a short ceremony in late November, which was necessarily limited to a few members of the Belsoc Committee and a an equally small number of Consuelo’s friends, her ashes were buried at the foot of the tree.  We are delighted to have a beautiful reminder of her and so are her family, who will visit as soon as  conditions allow.

News from Friends of Belsize Library

Belsize Community Library Zoom talks
Pat Holden writes:

Thanks to Zoom, the Friends of Belsize Community Library have managed to continue with their monthly library talks since September. 

Stephen Duncan, the son of Beata (Susanna) Duncan, spoke about his mother’s early life in Germany during the turmoil of Weimar Berlin and read from her poetry collection Berlin Blues (Green Bottle Press) reflecting that period . Beata also wrote poems about her life during the London blitz in Breaking Glass (WriteSideLeft.) Beata was a long time resident of Belsize Park and a strong supporter and campaigner for Belsize Library. 

Tudor Allen, the archivist, took us on a historical tour of Swiss Cottage and we saw some of the enormous changes that took place during the twentieth century.

Karin Fernald, the actor, writer and performer described and illustrated how Englishwomen such as Mary Wollstonecraft, who were critical of their own society, crossed the Channel early in the French Revolution with high hopes. We saw paintings, portraits and caricatures by French and English artists.

The actors Colin Pinney and Noelle Rimmington performed the story of Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath using the couple’s own words to show their marriage and its conflicting passions.

The talks are held on the third Thursday of each month at 7.30 and we have the following planned.

February 18  Laura Spinney, the writer and science journalist will talk on “Pandemics old and new: parallels between the ‘Spanish’  flu of 1918 and Covid-19”:
March 18 Josh Levine, who worked on the script of Dunkirk (topic to be agreed)

If you would like to be on our mailing list and receive the Zoom link, please email bcltalks@yahoo.com                      

 

Belsize Poetry

Belsize Poetry

In these difficult times, we asked Belsize poet, Robert Ilson, for something to give us hope.  We are very grateful for the poem which he sent us. 

Hope

When children cluster round you, say
It hasn’t always been this way :
There was a time when you could meet
Your friends and neighbours in the street
And go with them to have a meal.
It was no fantasy ; it was real.
The children may begin to ask
Did everybody wear a mask ?
Not then, you’ll say, and shed a tear
Recalling many a former year.
The children will as children do
Try all they can to comfort you
But you’ll remind them nought can stay
For ever as it is today
And just as winter yields to spring
There is a seed in everything
That will if given patient care
Make all things better than they were.

Robert Ilson